Mobile is the new PC, says Epic

GDC Europe 2012: Mobile "starting to compete with current consoles," next-generation chips will be 20 times as powerful.

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The power of mobile GPUs and the complexity of developing for them are rapidly approaching that of consoles and some PCs, according to Niklas Smedberg of Epic Games. Speaking during a keynote presentation at GDC Europe, the developer said that mobile was "starting to compete with current consoles," but in doing so development has become much more complex.

"We are Epic, we never do the minimum."

Smedberg compared the process of mobile development to that of PCs, where there are hundreds of different platforms to develop for, each with their own hardware. "We have to scale things--we are Epic, we never do the minimum, so we have to scale for high to low devices." He went on to claim that mobile games will soon have graphics options similar to that of PCs, with low, medium, and high for different effects, as well as resolution settings.

Citing the example of God Rays, a lighting effect used heavily in Gear of War 3 and Infinity Blade II, Smedberg said that the mobile version of the effect actually "ended up looking better" than on the 360. "In some regards, mobile is way better than console. There's way more memory, which allows for much higher texture resolutions."

Looking to the future, Smedberg claimed that the next generation of mobile GPUs will be up to 20 times more powerful. He cited product roadmaps from IMGTec and Nvidia as examples and assured the audience that such steep rises in GPU power would be put to good use. "On console we were doing 720p," he said. "On iPad we're doing crazy resolutions."

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